This post originally appeared in the July 6, 2020 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.
In college, I worked at a campus bakery and cafe that was far from gourmet. We were there to feed college students stranded at the student union between classes, so our baking strategy usually involved bulk boxes of frozen croissant dough, cookie dough, and rolls that we topped with premixed garlic butter and shredded cheese. But the bakery did offer its staffers a few hours a week for “free baking,” when we could tackle any recipes we wanted. The managers preferred that we selected recipes that could be served multiple days in a row: in other words, items that freeze well or hold up in a refrigerator. For me, Ina Garten’s truly revelatory Outrageous Brownies became a go-to on my free-bake days: Fudgy and rich, they came out even better after a stint in the freezer. My move since then has been to freeze my brownies.
Brownies lend themselves perfectly to freezing because they’re often fairly chewy and buttery, which prevents them from turning into a rock. Stored at sub-zero temperatures, they stay just as good for well over a month. The best part, though, is that they get more dense in the freezer, making for an all-around better texture — almost like a thick, frozen chocolate bar, but not so hard that you crack your teeth.
Batch-baking and then freezing brownies is particularly smart during the summer. Despite my kitchen being approximately 1,000 degrees in June, during a recent trip to the grocery store to fill up on pandemic provisions, I grabbed instant coffee and several packs of baking chocolate to recreate Ina’s recipe. My goal: To brave the hot oven and bake one big batch of brownies to squirrel away in the freezer for a quick-grab, chilled treat. After they baked, I sliced the brownies into my preferred rectangle size (about the size of the palm of my hand) and carefully stacked them into Tupperware containers, wrapping them in plastic wrap, wax paper, or tin foil to keep them from sticking together before shoving them into the freezer. A month of perfect, chilled brownies for dessert is well worth suffering through 45 minutes with my oven blasting out 375 degrees of molten air into the kitchen.
I frequently eat them straight out of the icebox with very little defrosting — they taste just as good as the fresh ones, and maybe even a little better because I didn’t have to fire up an oven (again). The warmth of a hand or a summertime room speeds the melting process. If you desire it, though, you could reheat the brownie by letting it defrost a bit on the counter and then briefly sticking it in the microwave (keep in mind that defrosting may cause the brownie to sweat a bit). But, really, who wants to sit around and wait for their treat? Just grab it out of the freezer and start eating, maybe even with a dollop of ice cream on the side.